Monday, June 22, 2009

From the Archives: La Villa Pizza

On Tuesday night, eleven members of PCOC convened for our 31st meeting at La Villa Pizzeria and Restaurant on Pulaski just north of Addison on the northwest side. La Villa was chosen by PCOC's Former President and Grande Dame Bridget Kelly after one of her old-school girlfriends from St. Viator's Parish recommended it. While St. Viator's Grammar School's hard-nosed, no-nonsense, and sometimes blood-thirsty hoops teams gave the neighborhood a certain reputation among those that spent time in the Big Ten Catholic League as kids, after visiting La Villa, it is apparent that the area is not all sharp elbows and knees to the groin, as love is being spread around this neighborhood in shape of round, steamy and delicious thin crust pizzas from La Villa.
Before getting into some info on La Villa and its pizza, I'd like to take a minute to say that I think that last week's meeting brought PCOC into rare territory as a club devoted to Chicago and its pizza. While there was nothing especially notable about this meeting number or its date, I feel that, with this 31st meeting, PCOC has successfully secured its place in the pizza world as an institution truly devoted to Chicago's pizza whose like cannot be found in the history of this fine city. With our combined experiences, we, PCOC's members, have all become true pizza experts. Congrats PCOC members, and remember, with our expertise and experience comes great responsibility. We must strive to broaden our personal experiences with Chicago and its pizza and to promote those pizza joints that truly embody the finest aspects of the crusty, cheesy, and tomatoey goodness that this city produces.

Moving on to La Villa. As mentioned above, La Villa is located just north of the intersection of Addison and Pulaski, within walking distance of the Addison Blue Line stop. La Villa appears to not simply be a pizza joint, but also a banquet hall, a local bar, and regular sit-down Italian restaurant, all of this seeming to add up to making La Villa a neighborhood institution of sorts. The main dining area that we were seated in consisted of a bar, several booths along both walls, and several tables. This main room was fairly crowded with bar patrons watching the Sox (somewhat strange considering how firmly La Villa is rooted in Cubs country), families, co-workers out for a bite, and locals having dinner. Before chowing down on some pies, various PCOC members made the following interesting observations about the place that may help readers out there in drawing a mental picture of La Villa:

  • There was what appeared to be a sold-out condom machine in the men's room. The machine's presence made PCOC member Tom Dine posit that any pizza joint with this feature likely produced killer pies with untold aphrodisiacs included in the recipe.
  • La Villa's tables are set with the red and white-patterned tablecloths that are a true sign of a quality family Italian joints.
  • It was the right type of dark in the dining area. This means, of course, that it was bright enough to evaluate a pizza's crispy quotient and to easily determine toppings at a glance without it being so bright that sauce, grease or beer stains were easily visible on clothing and/or faces.

Getting down to La Villa's pizza, I would first like to note that while La Villa offers stuffed and deep dish pizza in addition to their most-popular thin crust variety, PCOC only ordered thin crust pizzas on its visit. Looking back on this decision, I am pleased with it because by failing to try La Villa's stuffed and deep dish pizzas, I have given myself a great reason to go back and eat some more of La Villa's tasty thin crust pizza. (This may not seem to make sense, but a veteran pizza hound would surely understand that, on my next visit, I intend to not only try the deep and stuffed pies but also to remind myself of the fine quality of La Villa's thin pizza as well.)

La Villa's thin crust pizza is not of the cracker-thin variety found in Chicago but is more middle of the road in terms of thickness. (thicker than a cracker, thinner than a slice of bread.) After the pizzas arrived at our table, and after he was able to inhale a couple pieces, member Matt "Chief" Dine immediately drew a comparison between La Villa's thin crust and Pete's Pizzeria's thin crust on North Western Avenue. This is a monumental comparison as Pete's is often considered by PCOC one of the northside's finest pizza joints. (PCOC thinks so highly of Pete's that, while I am not sure of this, I would be willing to bet some serious cash, or pizza or beer, that Pete's delivery number is stored in the memory of several PCOC member's phones.) After several more minutes and several more pieces, the Chief even declared that he thought that La Villa might be better than Pete's. While I have to agree with the Chief that La Villa makes a damn good pie, I am not able to place it on the podium above Pete's quite yet, as there were a couple criticisms of the pies offered by PCOC's astute members.

before getting into a critique of La Villa's thin crust pizza, I'll set out our order. For our 11, we ordered a sausage & pepperoni, a cheese and tomato with half spinach, a sausage, and a special, all large and well-done. I tried all but the special focusing on the sausage and the cheese and tomato. Several members thought the sausage had a great flavor and really stood out among all the toppings. I also thought the sausage was good and also thought that the cheese and tomato was real good due to the juicy-fresh tomatoes. A couple female members grumbled a bit about the spinach and tomato pie as they thought there was too much spinach on it or that the spinach had a bit of a "dirty" flavor. I also thought that some of the edge pieces were a bit dry and could have used a bit more sauce. All in all though, La Villa makes a damn good thin crust pizza in a relaxed and friendly environment, one that is worth the trip up to Addison and Pulaski no matter where you're coming from.

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